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5: Sex Addiction




Sex is a naturally rewarding behavior (i.e., activates reward circuitry in the brain) and is necessary for the propagation of our species. Many scholars conceptualize sex addiction as an attachment disorder, therefore attachment and family-of-origin work often are key components of successful treatment. Additionally, given the mood modifying properties of sexual acts, emotion regulation skill development also is common in sex addiction treatment. Sex addiction can include a variety of sexual behaviors ranging from compulsive pornography use to anonymous sex with consenting adults, thus the differentiation between sex addiction and pornography addiction is fairly arbitrary. This chapter focuses on the basics of sex addiction, including signs and symptoms, differentiating sex addiction from sexual offending, neuroscience related to sex addiction, negative consequences of sex addiction, effective assessment tools, treatment considerations, 12-step program options, and diagnostic considerations.